The Cult of the Dead Cow changed the culture of the entire security industry, the attitude of companies who had ignored risks, and even how the feds dealt with hackers. In this session, four key figures from the group’s first 35 years will cover their greatest hits and screw-ups, highlighting the lessons for other hackers out to make a difference.
They will be questioned by Joseph Menn, whose new book on the group shows how it evolved from a network of bulletin board operators to the standard-bearers of hacker culture. cDc Minister of Propaganda Deth Vegetable and long serving text-file editor Omega will appear for the first time under their real names, covering the group’s formative years and how it handled such recent controversies as WikiLeaks, neo-Nazis, and the presidential candidacy of cDc alum Beto O’Rourke.
cDc tech luminaries Zatko and Rioux will discuss the release of Back Orifice at Def Con in 1998, which allowed non-hackers to hijack Windows machines, drawing worldwide attention to the insecurity of Microsoft’s operating system, and Rioux’s pathbreaking sequel, Back Orifice 2K, which prompted Microsoft to hire hackers as security consultants, including those from Zatko and Rioux’s @stake. Zatko will share insights from leading inside the government, where he ran cybersecurity grantmaking at DARPA, the people who brought you the internet. And Rioux will explain what’s possible in the private sector, where he co-founded unicorn Veracode, which dramatically improved code review by major software buyers.
Joseph Menn has just published Cult of the Dead Cow: How the Original Hacking Supergroup Might Just Save the World. He is an investigative reporter on security, and has covered the issue since 1999 at the Los Angeles Times, Financial Times and most recently Reuters. His previous books include Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords who are Bringing Down the Internet and All the Rave: The Rise and Fall of Shawn Fanning’s Napster.
Peiter Mudge Zatko
Mudge fronted the pioneer hacker space the L0pht and turned it into a venture-backed security business @Stake. He led sensitive government work at BBN and cybersecurity at DARPA before joining Google to work on special projects. He also led security at Stripe and founded Cyber-ITL, an independent testing lab for software security.
Chris Dildog Rioux
Rioux was the first employee of the L0pht, updated password cracker L0phtcrack, stayed with @stake through its acquisition by Symantec and founded Veracode.
Veggie took a break to go to graduate school in archaeology. He’s back now.
Omega has been very quietly working in security for a long time.